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Antonio was born in Utuado, Puerto Rico in 1943. His family moved to Spanish Harlem in 1950 where he showed early promise as an artist making drawings for his mother who was a seamstress and dressmaker. In the early 1960s he enrolled on a course at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York where he met Juan Ramos who became his life long partner, and collaborator. While a student at FIT he participated in a work-study program at Womens Wear Daily where his talent was immediately recognized. He was offered a job at WWD and dropped out of FIT before joining The New York Times in 1963 where his style continued to develop. He was soon freelancing for Harper’s Bazaar, British Vogue and French Elle.
In 1969 he moved to Paris with Ramos where they lived in an apartment owned by Karl Lagerfeld. At this point he was being commissioned by all the leading fashion magazines and contributed several pages of drawings to the April in Paris issue of Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine. Antonio and Ramos returned to New York in 1975 and set up a studio at 876 Broadway. Three years later they moved into a space on Union Square West. In 1981 he began collaborating with Anna Piaggi on the magazine Vanity. His self-portrait graced the cover of the first issue launched in September 1981.
Amongst many others, Antonio hung out with and drew Jerry Hall, with whom he shared a flat, Grace Jones, Pat Cleveland, Tina Chow and Jessica Lange, all of whom featured in the 1982, Antonio Girls published by New York Congreve. This book was followed in 1985 by Antonio’s Tales of 1001 Nights published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang.
Antonio died from an AIDS related illness in Los Angeles 1987. He was forty four years old.
The artists obit from the New York Times:
ANTONIO LOPEZ IS DEAD AT 44; WAS MAJOR FASHION ILLUSTRATOR
By ANNE-MARIE SCHIRO
Published: March 18, 1987
Antonio Lopez, a fashion illustrator whose drawings appeared frequently in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Interview and The New York Times and whose works were exhibited in galleries all over the world, died of AIDS yesterday morning in the U.C.L.A. Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 44 years old.
Mr. Lopez, who lived in New York, had been in California for two weeks for an exhibition of his fashion drawings and personality portraits at the Robert Berman Gallery in Santa Monica. An exhibition of his drawings is also currently taking place in Munich, West Germany. He worked with a variety of materials including pencil, pen and ink, charcoal, watercolors and Polaroid film. He signed his work simply ”Antonio.”
An artist whose constantly changing but always flamboyant style has influenced the work of other fashion illustrators since the 1960’s, Mr. Lopez also designed advertising campaigns in many parts of the world, including a trend-setting series of advertisements for Bloomingdale’s in the last decade. Drawing at Two a native of Puerto Rico, he came to New York City as a child. He once recalled that he had started drawing at the age of 2, sketching dresses from fabric his mother gave him. While a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology, he went to Women’s Wear Daily, the trade publication, as part of a work-study program, where his talent was immediately recognized. The paper put him on staff and he left school.
In the early 1960’s he began to freelance for fashion magazines, where his portraits of models such as Jerry Hall, Jessica Lange and Grace Jones enhanced their careers. Many of these portraits were collected in ”Antonio’s Girls,” a book published in 1982.
In 1969 he moved to Paris, where he and Karl Lagerfeld, the designer, ran a sort of salon for models and fashion personalities. He stayed there for seven years, during which time he introduced many facets of American pop culture to the French. Taught Workshops
He strayed from the realm of fashion in ”Antonio’s Tales From the Thousand and One Nights,” a book containing sensuous color illustrations and line drawings that was published in 1985 by Stewart, Tabori & Chang. Up until the time of his death, he had been working on a compilation of his fashion drawings to be called ”25 Years of Fashion” that is scheduled for publication early in 1988. His long-time partner, Juan Ramos, plans to finish the book, to be published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang.
In the last 10 years, Mr. Lopez became interested in education and devoted much of his time to giving lectures and workshops to students of fashion illustration in many parts of the country and in the Dominican Republic.
He is survived by his mother, Maria Luisa Cruz; his father, Francisco Lopez, and two brothers, Roberto and Herbert Lopez, all of Puerto Rico. His body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Puerto Rico. There will be a memorial service sometime later in New York.